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John Stark was a famous general in the Revolution. But this story is not about the Revolution. It is about Stark before he became a soldier.

When he was a young man, Stark went into the woods. His brother and two other young men were with him. They lived in a camp. It was far away from any houses.

The young men set traps for animals in many places. They wanted to catch the animals that have fur on them. They wanted to get the skins to sell.

The Abenaki Indians were at war with the European settlers. One day the young men saw the tracks of the Indians. Then they knew that it was not safe for them to stay in the woods any longer. They began to get ready to go home.

John Stark went out to bring in the traps set for animals. The Indians found him, and made him a prisoner. They asked him where his friends were.

Stark did not wish his friends to be taken. So he pointed the wrong way. He took the Indians a long way from the other young men.

But John Stark's friends did not know that he was a prisoner. When he did not come back, they thought that he had lost his way. They fired their guns to let him know where they were.

When the Indians heard the guns, they knew where the other hunters were. They went down to the river, and waited for them. When one of the men came down, they caught him.

Then John Stark's brother and the other man came down the river in a boat. The Indians told Stark to call them. They wanted them to come over where the Indians were. Then they could take them.

John knew that if he did not do what the Indians told him to, they might kill him. But he wished to save his brother. He called to his brother to row for the other shore.

When they turned toward the other shore, the Indians fired at them. But Stark knocked up two of their guns. They did not hit his brother or friend. Then some of the other Indians fired. Stark knocked up their guns also. But the man that was with his brother was killed.

John now called to his brother, "Run! for all the Indians' guns are empty."

His brother got away. The Indians were very angry with John. They did not kill him. But they gave him a good beating. These Indians were from Canada. They took their prisoners to their own village. When they were coming home, they shouted to let the people know that they had prisoners.

The young Indian warriors stood in two rows in the village. Each prisoner had to run between these two rows of Indians. As he passed, every one of the Indians hit him as hard as he could with a stick, or a club, or a stone.

The young man who was with Stark was badly hurt in running between these lines. But John Stark knew the Indians. He knew that they liked a brave man.

When it came his turn to run, he snatched a club from one of the Indians. With this club, he fought his way down the lines. He hit hard, now on this side, and now on that. The young Indians got out of his way. The old Indians who were looking on sat and laughed at the others. They said that Stark was a brave man.

One day the Indians gave him a hoe and told him to hoe corn. He knew that the Indian warriors would not work. They think it a shame for a man to work. They think that work is for slaves and women. So Stark pretended that he did not know how to hoe. He dug up the corn instead of the weeds. Then he threw the hoe into the river. He said, "That is work for slaves and women."

Then the Indians were pleased with him. They called him the young chief.

After a while the European settlers paid the Indians a hundred and three dollars to let Stark go home. They charged more for him than for the other man, because they thought that he must be a young chief. Stark went hunting again. He had to get some furs to pay back the money the men had paid the Indians for him. He took good care that the Indians should not catch him again.

He afterwards became an effective fighter against the Indians. He had learned their ways while he was among them. He knew better how to fight them than almost anybody else.

In the Revolution he was a general. He fought the British at Bennington, and won a great victory.


Study the lesson for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the story multiple times.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Study the vocabulary words.
  • Learn the concepts.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Study the review questions.


The Abenaki Indians captured John Stark while he trapped and hunted in the woods. The Abenakis brought Stark to their camp, and made him run the gauntlet. Stark had to run through two lines of Abenakis who hit him with clubs. Stark grabbed one of the clubs from the Abenakis and hit the Abenakis back. The Abenakis respected his bravery. Eventually a ransom was paid to the Abenakis to free Stark.


General: A commander of an armed force, or a military officer of very high rank.
Brave: Showing courage. Ready to face and ensure danger and pain.
Prisoner: A person captured and kept confined by an enemy or opponent.
Club: A heavy stick with a thick end that is used as a weapon.
Warrior: A brave or experienced soldier or fighter.
Hoe: A long-handled gardening tool with a thin metal blade, used mainly for weeding and breaking up soil.
Ransom: A sum of money or other payment demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner.


The Abenaki Indians originally lived in what is now the New England states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. When the European settlers came, many Abenakis fled to Canada.

Find the country of Canada and the states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine on the map below:

Facts about the Abenakis:

  1. The pronunciation of Abenaki is AH-buh-nah-kee.
  2. Abenaki means 'people of the dawn.'
  3. The Abenakis lived in lodges, wigwams, or longhouses. Lodges are huts. Wigwams are domes made of wooden poles, animals skins, and/or bark. Longhouses are multiple-family dwellings.
  4. Abenaki women farmed, cooked, and took care of children.
  5. Abenaki men hunted and fought to protect their families.
  6. Today, the Abenaki Indians live in Canada and New England, but have no recognition from the United States government.

Source: http://www.bigorrin.org/abenaki_kids.htm


Activity 1: Narrate the Story

  • After reading or listening to the story, narrate the story events aloud using your own words.

Activity 2: Color the Story   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete page 17 of 'History Coloring Pages for First Grade.'

Activity 3: Study the Story Picture

  • Study the picture below of John Stark running the gauntlet. Zoom in to see the details.
  • What is Stark holding? (A club that he's taken from an Abenaki Indian.)
  • What is he doing with the club? (Hitting the Abenakis.)
  • Given the sad expressions on their faces and/or the fact that they have fallen to the ground, how many Abenakis has Stark already hit? (We can see six hurt Abenakis, and Stark is battling a seventh.)


Question 1

Why was John Stark in the woods?
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Answer 1

He was trapping and hunting animals.
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Question 2

Why did the Abenakis respect John Stark, even though he was their prisoner?
2 / 3

Answer 2

As he ran the gauntlet, he took a club and hit the Abenakis back.
2 / 3

Question 3

Why did the Abenakis release John Stark?
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Answer 3

They received a ransom for his release.
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  1. Why was John Stark in the woods? He was trapping and hunting animals.
  2. Why did the Abenakis respect John Stark, even though he was their prisoner? As he ran the gauntlet, he took a club and hit the Abenakis back.
  3. Why did the Abenakis release John Stark? They received a ransom for his release.